How to correctly fit an equestrian helmet

How to correctly fit an equestrian helmet
Follow these steps to find a safe, comfortable riding helmet.
By Leslie Potter
Photos by Lesley Ward
Wearing a helmet isn't just a requirement for jumpers and dressage riders. It's good common sense for
any rider. Whether you're looking for a cool, comfortable schooling helmet to wear on the trails or a sporty
model for the show ring, protective headgear is most effective—and comfortable—if it fits properly. Here's
how to find a helmet that will fit you correctly.
Step 1: Measure
Using a flexible fabric
measuring tape, measure
the circumference of your
head one inch above your
eyebrows. You can do it
yourself, or recruit a friend
to make sure the tape stays
flat and even around your
head for an accurate
measurement. Your
measurement in
centimeters corresponds to
a hat size. Consult individual manufacturer's websites for a size
chart, or use the hat size conversion chart below as a starting
Step 2: Prepare the Helmet
Some styles of helmet have a built-in
fitting system, such as a dial or a
ratcheting mechanism in the back
that will help the helmet fit snugly.
Before trying it on, open the fitting
system to its widest setting. Let the
chin strap out far enough so that you
will be able to buckle it, and then
tighten it once you have the helmet
on. Some helmets also have padded
liners that can be adjusted for a more
custom fit. If you're not sure how it
will fit, try the largest setting first, then add more pads later.
Step 3: Position the Helmet
Place the helmet on your head.
If it is wobbly or uncomfortably
tight, try a new size. If it seems
okay, tighten the fitting
mechanism, if applicable, and
the chin strap. Make sure the
helmet isn't tilted. The brim
should be about an inch above
your eyebrows and level
across. You should feel even
pressure around the
circumference of your head.
The chin strap should not be loose at all, but not so tight that you
cannot move your head up and down comfortably.
Step 4: Check the Fit
Shake your head side to side
and up and down. Your helmet
shouldn't wobble at all. You
may be able to make some
adjustments to the fitting
mechanism or the pads to
correct an imperfect fit, but any
major sliding or wobbling
means you need to go down a
size or try a different model.
Your helmet should feel snug
enough that it won't move if
you hang your head upside down, but if it gives you a headache,
try a different one.
Things to Remember
Make sure your helmet is approved by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the
Safety Equipment Institute (SEI). This ensures that the helmet has been tested for equestrian use.
ASTM/SEI approved headgear is required if you are showing over fences or in dressage at United States
Equestrian Federation competitions.
Using a tape measure will give you an idea of the correct size, but everyone's head is shaped differently, so
even if you find the correct size, it may not be a comfortable fit. Even if you prefer to shop online or by
catalog, you can save time and money on returns if you go to a local tack shop and try on a few different
helmets before you decide which one to purchase.
Helmet manufacturers are always improving the safety and fit of their products. This means that even if you
just want to replace your old helmet with a new version in the same make and model, you should still try one
on, if you can.
When you go to try on helmets, wear your hair the way you will when you are riding. A ponytail might put you
a size up from what you would wear with your hair down. If you are purchasing a helmet for show, try it with
your hair up and under the helmet or in a bun, depending on how you will wear it when you're competing.